North Haven man sentenced in drunk driving death before packed courthouse

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW HAVEN--"I am not one of those mothers that will ever forgive you."

That is what Lisa Liquori--the mother of a young man who was jogging by his home when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver--said to the man who caused her son's death at his sentencing on Thursday.

The emotion inside New Haven Superior Court Thursday morning was palpable as 73-year-old North Haven resident Theodore Spalding was sentenced to four years in prison for killing John Liquori, 20, in July of 2014.

Spalding accepted a plea deal, which included four years in prison and a stipulation that once he is released, Spalding must donate $200 annually for five years to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in the name of John Liquori.

Liquori's family turned out in court to speak up for their loved one, and multiple people read victim impact statements on his behalf.

“Even though our relationship was grandmother and grandson, we were more like best friends for life,” said Sandra Sanford, Liquori’s maternal grandmother

“What’s most important to us is that next Thursday, on the 16th of July, the anniversary of you taking John from us, you will be in jail,” said Michael Pepe, a longtime family friend.

Spalding lives less than a half mile from the Liquori family. The day after John died last summer, Liquori’s mother walked to Spalding’s house to confront him. “He stood on his front porch and he didn’t say two words to me,” said Lisa Liquori. “He just stared at me. He didn’t apologize. He didn’t have any excuses.”

The police report says Spalding’s blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit and that Spalding told cops he first thought he hit a garbage can. He then changed his story to say John darted out in from of him. Yet again, Spalding changed his account a third time, saying he did not see a person.

A new state law that took effect July 1 requires even first time offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle, which will likely help decrease the number of drunk driving deaths.

“The best thing that will happen is it will stop a person, who is drinking continuously, at least to prevent them from hurting or killing someone,” said Michelle Lettieri, a victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Connecticut chapter.

Lettieri expects these devices may soon become standard features on all vehicles, which is, of course, little consolation for the Liquori family.

“When you die, Mr. Spaulding, hopefully not as horrifically as our son died at your hands, I hope your punishment continues in the afterlife,” said Lisa Liquori.

Before being cuffed and led from the courtroom to begin his sentence, Spalding delivered a brief apology, but never looked at the Liquori family in doing so.